Published Tuesday, 31 May 2011
The comments - made by current US Consul General in Belfast, Kamala Lakhdir, and circulated to the US embassies in Dublin and London, the State Department in Washington and the National Security Council - were published by the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday.
Ms Lakhdir noted that the SDLP leader did not impress consulate officials and said she "does not possess the rhetorical skills of her predecessor Mark Durkan".
Margaret Ritchie was also considered to be "burdened with what some deem an unpleasant speaking voice" and lacking the "political muscle and business acumen" to rebuild the SDLP post-John Hume.
Ms Ritchie's party colleague and one-time leadership rival Alasdair McDonnell also came in for criticism, in correspondence between party insiders and US officials - with speculation he lost out in last year's SDLP leadership battle due to his "bull-in-a-china-shop" approach.
The revelations come in the wake of a disappointing election campaign for the party, which saw them lose two seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
But Ms Ritchie - whose damning indictment from US quarters was off-set with admissions she was "seen as an earnest and honest politician" - topped the poll in South Down.
Also among the files obtained from whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks are cables claiming the DUP and Sinn Féin were involved in direct talks three years prior to the restoration of power-sharing and details of the importance of the security situation in Northern Ireland to officials in the US.
While the latest leaks may make uncomfortable reading - and have prompted fresh denials from the DUP of secret talks with Sinn Féin - it is understood there are more to come.
In a statement, the US State Department said it doesn't comment on classified documents and that it takes its responsibility for the privacy of those it engages with very seriously.
WikiLeaks: NI Cables
- Direct talks between DUP and Sinn Féin from 2004-2006, prior to St Andrews Agreement
- Peace process fears after Massereene murders - US officials viewed footage within hours
- NI still a security issue for Washington - analysts monitoring PSNI anti-terror ops
- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requested security briefings
- Washington urged to encourage Sinn Féin support for police
- White House briefed about Mary McAleese's talks with loyalist paramilitaries
- US diplomats still acting as brokers between parties
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